How To Rid Your Home Of Rats – Robert Davis is a member of Birdlife Australia, the Ecological Society of Australia and the Society for Conservation Biology. He has no conflicts of interest to declare.
As I write this article, the furry rodent just ran across the room and under the couch. It’s autumn in Australia, and as the outside temperature drops, rodents start looking for warmth and plenty of food in our homes.
How To Rid Your Home Of Rats
It’s a familiar experience for many of us, whether it’s a mouse in your house or rats breaking into your cage or eating fruit from your trees.
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In fact, a study last year found that rodents cost the global economy as much as $35.53 billion between 1930 and 2018, mostly due to the damage they caused on farms.
Farmers on the east coast of Australia know this all too well. The rodent problem can escalate in proportions after years of rain and warmer-than-average minimum temperatures.
Having personally experienced rat plague in the Nullarbor, I can confirm that it is a terrible experience. The economic losses are huge and the relentless waves of mice day and night terrorize those who have to live with them, sometimes for months.
Last year’s plague led to a proposal to release the poison bromadiolone over much of eastern Australia. If successful, this would significantly harm non-target native wildlife species such as owls, goannas and quolls, which our research has shown to be highly sensitive to multiple rodenticides as they pass through the food chain.
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People dealing with invasive rodents often ask me how best to control them without harming native wildlife. So here are some tips.
Sometimes old fashioned is best. Traps that you may remember from your childhood are still a very effective way to remove pesky rodents from your home. Just keep them away from the curious fingers of children and pets!
Some of the newer plastic traps with pivoting jaws that close on the mouse are less effective in my experience and may injure the mouse but not kill it. Several times I have experienced traps that were only pulled away by a mouse caught in the legs.
New to the Australian market is the A24 mechanical trap type. It self-recovers with scent-based bait and can kill 24 mice or rats with one tank. However, these are not suitable for outdoor use in areas with native wildlife.
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I recently had the terrible experience of one of these traps set in my bushland killing a native quenda (bandicoot). I was appalled, and after placing a surveillance camera on the deactivated trap, I discovered that opossums are also at serious risk from these types of traps.
Native animals such as the quenda (bandicoots) are at risk of being caught in mechanical traps designed for invasive rodents. Shutterstock
These traps do not appear to distinguish invasive rodents from native wildlife and have been known to kill native birds, rabbits and hedgehogs in New Zealand.
Governments need to reconsider the ethical and conservation implications of such traps in Australia. I am of the opinion that mechanical traps should not be placed outside the home or fence, where there is a risk to wild animals.
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Goodnature co-founder and industrial designer Craig Bond said the threat of traps to native animals is “ideally mitigated by the overall benefit to nature”. He said the company is working on preventative measures such as warning users in different ways to reduce risks to native wildlife. Bond continued:
We can and will put processes in place to mitigate and hopefully empower our hunters. And for that, we hired employees with the necessary expertise. […] However, we can be more proactive in warning about risks to non-target species. This problem has not been widespread in the past, but [we understand] that Australia is a particularly vulnerable environment.
Bond said Goodnature wanted to learn more about the risks its traps could pose to Australia’s native wildlife.
These are battery-operated rat and mouse traps that deliver a lethal blow to rodents when they come into contact with two plates in the trap.
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These are very powerful and very humane, as when the two plates touch, a lethal electric shock is delivered, stopping the heart instantly.
Although they are not cheap, I swear by these traps because they catch and kill quickly with your choice of bait like peanut butter. The risk of effects on non-target animals in the household is minimal.
But again – they should definitely not be used where native game could be trapped. Fishing rods are usually marked as not suitable for outdoor use and this instruction should be followed.
Read more: ‘No one ever forgets living through rat plague’: Dystopia in rural Australian communities, expert explains
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Live traps are popular among those who do not wish to kill animals. These include bucket traps to control large pests. The biggest problem is finding ways to send them.
Killing invasive rodents often requires drowning them, and by not killing the animals, you’re releasing the pest for someone else to deal with. If you don’t solve the problem of how they get into your home, they may come back to visit again that night.
The house mouse was probably introduced to Australia in the late 18th century as black passengers with the First Fleet. AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, file
Some live traps are inhumane, such as glue traps that contain sticky sheets to trap rodents that walk on them. These traps are not recommended under any circumstances.
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Glue traps are not only cruel, as it can take days for an animal to die, but they also don’t discriminate. If not stored and used carefully, there is a high risk of getting reptiles, birds or other non-target species.
Despite the risk to non-target animals, baits are always needed for major rodent problems such as mouse plague. However, they are not humane, as the animals die slowly of blood loss in an average of 7.2 days and have the highest chance of poisoning other species.
In Australia it is almost always unnecessary to use so called “second generation baits” such as brodifacoum. These baits are made in response to rodents developing resistance to certain chemicals and require only one feeding to be lethal.
The active substances of the second generation baits have a very long residence time in the liver of the animals that eat them, which leads to widespread secondary poisoning in the food chain.
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Australia’s invasive rodents likely lack a rodenticide resistance gene shared by their European and North American relatives, a 2020 study has found. As a result, some first generation products containing coumatetralyl and some natural alternatives such as zinc phosphide can be used safely in Australia for rodent control.
These products have a much shorter half-life in the liver or in rats and mice. Furthermore, in a 2018 study, they were not found in significant amounts in barn owls eating dead mice.
It is also important to remember that lures should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All too often I hear stories of people throwing wax baits or grain baits into their garden.
This is scary considering that it provides direct access to lice, bandits, birds, small children and pets. Most baits should be placed in bait stands that prevent exposure to non-target species.
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We should understand that pest control is a comprehensive activity. Relying on one technology is probably not enough.
When it comes to pest control, it is important to protect your house, fence or grain silo as well as possible from rodents. This can include sealing water and electrical lines, holes in baseboards and gaps or holes in grain storage.
On a commercial scale, investing in modern pest-proof facilities, such as enclosed grain silos, and plugging any possible openings can well offset the long-term cost of baits. They certainly pose a much lower risk to native wildlife. Rodents, especially rats, are closely related to humans. This is because people and their homes provide them with the things they need to be most successful. If you have a rodent infestation, Triangle Pest Control can help. We offer pest control in Charlotte, pest control in Raleigh and throughout NC, SC and CO
First, there are some basic things that can be done to keep rats out of your home.
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Obviously, most people know what rats are, but we need to do a quick breakdown of where they are usually found, what they look like, what they eat, and more!
Rats are commonly found throughout the United States, and while they come in a variety of sizes and colors, they are usually about 5 to 10 inches long, with long scaly tails and beady eyes. There have been reports of rats weighing up to 6 or 7 pounds, but they are usually much smaller.
This is evident from the Integrated Taxonomic Information Report published by the government. There are over 50 species of rats in the United States, but in general they all look pretty much the same.
Rats are commonly known as scavengers and they don’t need much to survive. Regardless, the 3 basic things they need to survive are things humans also have/need.
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Rats cause several problems and
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